The Lion City will see the return of the ONE Fighting Championship this Saturday as the Singapore Indoor Stadium plays host to MMA fight night ONE FC: Rise of Kings.
Following trips to Malaysia and the Philippines, ONE FC, whose headquarters are in Singapore, returns to the arena that held its inaugural event last year.
Headlining the card is a superfight that fans have been clamouring for. France’s best lightweight, Arnaud Lepont, faces arguably the best submission practitioner in the sport today, Shinya Aoki, from Japan.
Aoki is a former lightweight champion and a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He is renowned for his flying submissions, which he can execute in a blink of an eye and his opponent must watch out for.
Lepont is no slouch in the grappling department, though. He has won seven of his nine fights by submission and holds a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
In this match-up of established grapplers, it could very well be striking that determines the outcome.
For the first time under the ONE FC promotion, champions will be crowned in the bantamweight (61kg) and lightweight (70kg) divisions.
Two Brazilians based in Singapore will battle East Asian opponents.
Training partners Zorobabel Moreira and Leonardo Issa will face Japanese kickboxer Koetsu Boku and Soo Chul Kim, of South Korea, respectively.
Lightweight Moreira has been on an absolute tear, impressing in every fight and showing new weapons to his arsenal. He faces arguably his toughest test to date in Boku, who is of mixed Japanese and Korean ancestry and a former champion in Japan.
The battle between Issa and Soo for the bantamweight title is a rematch of last year’s event, which Issa won via unanimous decision, and both fighters are coming into this bout on a winning streak.
Soo will get a chance to even the score, whereas Issa is aiming to repeat his heroics from last year, but with an added championship belt this time.
ONE FC: Rise of Kings also kicks off a Bantamweight Grand Prix that will determine the next challenger to the new champion.
Fighters from China, the US, South Korea, the Philippines, Japan and Russia will compete in three of the quarterfinal matches, with winners moving on to fight one another at a later date. The winner of the tournament will win a title fight.
Notable fighters in the competition include the first UFC lightweight champion, Jens Pulver, and Japanese bantamweight champion Masakatsu Ueda.
With a mouth-watering main event and new titles on the line, Singapore cage-fighting fans will be in for a treat this weekend as ONE FC comes home for more thrilling action.
Gerald Ng reporting from Singapore